German luxury carmaker Audi plans to extend its automotive empire and fulfill its chairman ambition by buying Italian motorbike maker Ducati for about 780 million euros.

“The due diligence is not yet completed. There are still a few issues that need to be examined,” the source said.

A deal with Ducati would extend Audi’s long term rivalry with BMW over superbikes and would add expertise about high-revving light engines to VW’s engineering portfolio, which ranges from cars through heavy trucks to ship engines. The talks could allow Ducati’s main shareholder, Investindustrial, to double the value of its investment in Ducati. Investindustrial’s chairman Andrea Bonomi declared that he was looking to sell, and in a report on Tuesday, March 13th, put the price at about 850 million euros.

“One should never say no if an interesting opportunity arises, but we’re big enough,” Volkswagen Group Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn said, adding he did not like companies which are loss making.

Ducati, which sells around 40,000 motorcycles per year, also controls about 9% of the market in sports motorcycles. It was founded in 1926 and since then it scored 17 manufacturer’s World Championship titles and most recently won the 2011 World Superbike Championship title.


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